Choosing a new countertop can be overwhelming. With so many materials, styles, colours, and designs to choose from, where do you even start?

Your countertop is going to last for years and contribute to the overall feel of your home. You want to make sure it’s durable, strong and suits your space and lifestyle. For example, that crisp white countertop you’ve been eyeing up might not stay that way for long if you have young children who like to help in the kitchen. Some materials hold up to wear and tear better than others too; laminate scratches more easily than granite for example. Cost and maintenance requirements will also factor into your final decision. Consider the following pros and cons of popular countertop materials before making your pick:

Laminate

Example of Laminate countertop. Image source: Bob Vila

Pros: Laminate is very affordable and come in many colours and designs. If you are on a tight budget or like to change up your décor often, it could be a good choice. It’s also the easiest type of countertop to install yourself or least expensive option for a professional to install.

Cons: It is a lot easier to damage a laminate countertop. Hot pans can scorch the surface and it’s also more prone to scratches. Laminate generally does not add resale value to a home because of its wide availability and affordability.

Wood

Image source: Custom Woodworking

Pros: Wood can add instant warmth to a kitchen. It’s easy on knives and scratches or blemishes can be sanded. Some people prefer to leave imperfections alone to add character. There’s a variety of types (e.g. oak, cherry, teak) to choose from and stains or finishes can further customize your style.

Cons: Wood needs to be sealed properly. If not, it becomes porous and a hot spot for germs. It also requires frequent maintenance; without oil or other protectant, water damage can easily occur. Because it is softer than other materials, it does scratch more easily and will show wear and tear sooner. It may require re-sanding and/or re-finishing.

Natural Stone

Image source: Exotic Stone

Pros: Stone exists in nature. Unlike synthetic materials, countertops created from stone create less waste while reflecting the beauty of nature. Stone is extremely durable and ages very well; this type of countertop will not need to be replaced and will be just as stunning 10 or 20 years from now. While they do require a substantial upfront investment, stone countertops will save you money in the long run and add can resale value to your home.

Cons: Stone is a costly upfront investment. It does require some maintenance to maintain its appearance and durability. These countertops should also be professionally installed.

Quartz: Quartz is a type of engineered stone. Unlike natural stone, quartz never needs to be sealed or polished. It is very durable, scratch and stain-resistant, non-porous and non-absorbent. Because it is man-made, colour and pattern options are endless and will be consistent throughout the whole piece.

Granite: Each piece of this natural stone material has a unique pattern of flecks and swirls, the classic look being salt and pepper. Granite does require a bit of maintenance (annual resealing) but is an extremely durable and scratch-resistant and adds one-of-a-kind beauty to your home.

Marble: Marble is a softer material, but still quite durable. It is easier to sculpt, making it a good option for fancier edging decorations. It is more susceptible to damage and requires regular maintenance but can add a touch of classic refinement to a space.